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FCC crack down on router firmware mod's


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Hay Guys

Just spotted this on Hackaday a few miutes ago

Its a post on the new FCC crack down on modifying router firmware.

http://hackaday.com/2015/08/31/fcc-introduces-rules-banning-wifi-router-firmware-modification/

Interesting reading....

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Why this a thing? Do we not own the fucking hardware we buy?? I mean goddamn. If I want my <insert_device_here> to run better software than what the manufacturer put out then its going to.

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Except that the FCC is telling the makers of the devices you buy that they should make that impossible.

It's got a lot to do with people no longer seeing themselves as customers, but as consumers or licensees. That was a big slippery slope, and we're just picking up speed.

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Then I would hope that manufacturers start looking at the rest of world and seeing what they want.

Yes the US is a huger market, but it is not the only market thankfully.

You own what you buy (unless it's Apple in which case you technically lease it indefinitely if I read the EULA correctly). Surely you have the right to do as you please with it?

And while manufacturers can try to make it impossible, there are always those who look at that as a challenge.

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The smarter move would be to stock up on existing, hackable routers. Their rules are mostly phrased like "If we OK'd it before it's all good unless truly amazing things happen (and then we'll reimburse you, Mr. Vendor)".

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I'll probably just end up buying APs from manufacturers outside of the US and then flash open-wrt or dd-wrt like I want to. Have they not learned that no one wants devices with regulations or (especially) NSA backdoors? They just keep hurting US companies by doing these things.

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As can be read in the hackaday article, the manufacturers will create devices that cater too ALL markets. You're not going to get a US-specific model. Instead the whole world gets to suffer because some dickhead at the FCC inserted his tampon sideways.

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Similar sentiments are appearing for other areas as well. For example, the same is being pushed for the automotive space. You can't touch a car to try to fix it, because your a licensee holder and you should visit an authorized rep to fix it on your behalf. If you touch it, the warrantee is void. I read about this with regards to car and the John Deer farm equipment.

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I think what will happen, is people will start making their own home brew routers, with equipment like recycled desktops, small arm machines, and even raspberry pi's. People already do this for firewalls and some home wifi routers. Darren has covered it in 1 or 2 episodes now, and it's probably for the better if the direction of routers for the hobbyists go it alone. I think this will drive innovation and more open source projects as a result. The FCC doing this will have a hydra effect and just cause even more attacks on home routers to find holes in them, while people who are tech savvy will explore more options with their own home made devices.

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Building your own is the way to go, maybe time to revisit the episodes on building your own, but using standard PC mother board instread of flashed routers

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You should remember that the change isn't aimed at router firmwares. The change is aimed at all devices with radios. From the actual FCC document: "This guidance applies to master and client devices."

So good luck making your own router using an external wifi adapter once the new rules are in place, because that external wifi adapter will be the thing that gets locked down. And let's be honest here, most people on this forum couldn't give a toss about the CPU part of their router or what type of firmware it's running. They want their radio to blare out signal like a teenager's stereo. Just because you get access to the CPU part of things by jumping through a hoop doesn't mean you get any closer to where you want to be.

The only good thing is that this rule is specific to radios operating in the 5GHz spectrum as it pertains to Wifi. So if you have a router that's 2.4GHz-only this shouldn't impact you in any way.

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You should remember that the change isn't aimed at router firmwares. The change is aimed at all devices with radios. From the actual FCC document: "This guidance applies to master and client devices."

So good luck making your own router using an external wifi adapter once the new rules are in place, because that external wifi adapter will be the thing that gets locked down. And let's be honest here, most people on this forum couldn't give a toss about the CPU part of their router or what type of firmware it's running. They want their radio to blare out signal like a teenager's stereo. Just because you get access to the CPU part of things by jumping through a hoop doesn't mean you get any closer to where you want to be.

The only good thing is that this rule is specific to radios operating in the 5GHz spectrum as it pertains to Wifi. So if you have a router that's 2.4GHz-only this shouldn't impact you in any way.

For things like the older linksys USB wifi cards, you used to be able to go into the windows registry to change the channels it could lock on to, which in the US, we have 1-11 and the card could actually do all 1-14 for the 2.4ghz range while most of the rest of the world could do 1-14 by default. Linux let you access this just from the terminal. Thing is, like you said, the FCC would be locking things down but the rest of the civilized world wouldn't really have to abide so hardware would need to be able to use things like the higher channels on the older cards, which were really just a setting to disable accessing them. With Firmware being the main thing controlling the functions (at least in what the FCC now wants control of) I would say they probably end up doing something similar, which is more security through obscurity, or, remove feature X from US shipped devices with modified configurations, while EU and Asian based versions of the same are probably no different inside hardware wise, only sans the lock down.

I can understand regulation for communication standards and conformity in user space alongside commercial and gov/mil radio space, but with SDR now being more accessible, I think it's only going to go further to make things difficult for regulations to keep a lock down on things people want to be able to do with their devices, and modding firmware, will become the least of their worries in the long run.

Wifi is everywhere, and as much as I hate it(it's inherently insecure and a PITA to keep stable in some environments) it's not going away any time soon. My system is on 5GHZ using 802.11AC, which does 802.11, a B, G, N and AC using 3 radios, and I get 350+mbps at one end of the house to the other. They make firmware for my router that I could do a lot more with and probably add more functionality to the firewall rules, which these things are basically small linux machines with some radios in them. I think any regulation that tries to lock down the master and client devices, is still going to impact peoples want and need to add things to their devices, like SSH and VPN logins that aren't enabled by default on many devices but are capable. It's what drove the market for OpenWRT, Tomato and DD-WRT. http://lifehacker.com/how-to-choose-the-best-firmware-to-supercharge-your-wi-1694982764

As for modding and open source, while many here may not have the knowledge or be actively working on router firmwares, projects like OpenWRT and DD-WRT show us that there is definitely a community of people who do take an interest in this. Why exactly the FCC wants control, who knows. Most of the time it's for money and misguided bullshit that has no relevance to their department, like how they used to sue Howard Stern till he left terrestrial radio for vulgar language. Other than having working standards for communications, anything else they do beyond that is pretty much bullshit. Make devices work inter-operable with safe standards, but beyond that, they need to be hands off the hobbyists and tech community. Especially if we're finding flaws and releasing patches, which is probably more the covert reason they want things untouched, since the govt is probably in some way putting their hands on what goes into US shipped devices anyway.

https://www.google.com/#q=NSA+router+firmware+backdoors

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You should remember that the change isn't aimed at router firmwares. The change is aimed at all devices with radios. From the actual FCC document: "This guidance applies to master and client devices."

So good luck making your own router using an external wifi adapter once the new rules are in place, because that external wifi adapter will be the thing that gets locked down. And let's be honest here, most people on this forum couldn't give a toss about the CPU part of their router or what type of firmware it's running. They want their radio to blare out signal like a teenager's stereo. Just because you get access to the CPU part of things by jumping through a hoop doesn't mean you get any closer to where you want to be.

The only good thing is that this rule is specific to radios operating in the 5GHz spectrum as it pertains to Wifi. So if you have a router that's 2.4GHz-only this shouldn't impact you in any way.

Good. There's no need to jack with the radio's transmit power. If your WiFi doesn't cover your whole house, you're doing it wrong.

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<rant>

<meow>
I'm kinda sick of this whole thing. I'm sick of the FCC trying impose limits on my free speech. If I want to access my router from another 5 meters away I should be able to change my wifi antenna strength. It can be set to 30 dbi but the law says I can't. Are you fucking kidding me. Your car has 400 horsepower but if you drive over 55 you'll get a speeding ticket. Even though in countries with higher speed limits have less accident. Places with no speed limits have less accidents. Why because they have higher for a pass on their driving tests. The driver has better problem solving skills and is probably smarter. Or the government telling you that you can only have a 10 round magazine for your pistol. Dude I'm not worried 10th round to begin with. It's first one that is probably going to kill you.

word of day is liberty folks

1.
freedom from arbitrary or despotic government or control.
2.
freedom from external or foreign rule; independence.
3.
freedom from control, interference, obligation, restriction, hampering conditions, etc.; power or right of doing, thinking, speaking, etc., according to choice.
4.
freedom from captivity, confinement, or physical restraint:
The prisoner soon regained his liberty.
5.
permission granted to a sailor, especially in the navy, to go ashore.
6.
freedom or right to frequent or use a place:
The visitors were given the liberty of the city.

7. unwarranted or impertinent freedom in action or speech, or a form or instance of it.

I hear words like freedom and liberty get thrown around a lot.

But really there's not a lot of things you can do anymore without some kind of permit or license. You want to catch a fish. You have to got to the store and buy a fishing license. Then you put gas in your car that is taxed. You pay for a driver's licence, insurance that is required by law, tags, registration, everything else. You drive to the fishing hole following all of the rules of the road. You get your fishing rod out and your tackle box out. You have to use a certain kind of hook as per some law. There's like 10,000 new laws on the books this year and you haven't the time to read them all nor the legal education to really understand them all. So you do what you think is the right thing to do according to natural law and common sense. If I can do something and it doesn't hurt anyone than I should. Nobody should be in my personal business telling me what I can and can't do.

I'm also really fed up with the idea of copyrights and patents. I look at it this way. If the first person to ever knap a biface out of a piece of stone was nope other cavemen it's my idea you can't use it I have a patent. Then we'd probably be extinct. Really the right to technology and the freedom to use it is necessary for our survival as species.

</meow>

</rant>

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Woah there, citizen...

I'm sick of the FCC trying impose limits on my free speech.


That's not what they're doing. They trying to make you play nice with others.

I should be able to change my wifi antenna strength. It can be set to 30 dbi but the law says I can't. Are you fucking kidding me.


What you're complaining about is compared to "IF I WANT TO STAND HERE AND SHOUT ABOUT WHAT MONSTROUS BULLSHIT THESE OVERSEAS WARS ARE, I SHOULD BE ABLE TO!! FREE SPEECH, YO!" which is something people might agree to, but not at a military cemetery at the very spot where at exact moment loved ones are committing the remains of a fallen hero to the ground.

Context should be the word of today.

Your car has 400 horsepower but if you drive over 55 you'll get a speeding ticket. Even though in countries with higher speed limits have less accident. Places with no speed limits have less accidents. Why because they have higher for a pass on their driving tests. The driver has better problem solving skills and is probably smarter.


No, it's because those countries have changed the roads in such a way that it's safe for you to do so. You're not allowed to drive 200 mph through city limits there anymore than you are where ever you are. They often also have a points system whereby if you don't obey the traffic laws you quickly lose your driving license and as a result the chavs quickly learn to behave or get kept off the road.

Remember, you're sharing the road with grandma who's driving to church at a mere 40 mph because she knows her response time isn't what it used to be. You're driving on a road that might be next to a school or a playground and you know how kids are when their ball veers off the court.

Or the government telling you that you can only have a 10 round magazine for your pistol. Dude I'm not worried 10th round to begin with. It's first one that is probably going to kill you.


Oh, so just one is sufficient? Does that mean you're cool with only no-magazine guns being legal so long as you're allowed to carry with 1 in the chamber?

I hear words like freedom and liberty get thrown around a lot.


So do I. Most people that say it tend to mean "I want everybody but me to abide by the law so I can finally get my shit DONE". You're not alone in the world. If you were to give the freedom you so desire to everybody else as well what you end up with is total anarchy and you don't want that, no matter how hip or cool it may appear at first glance.

No more than 10 rounds for your at best semi-automatic starts to make a WHOLE lot of sense when a maniac begins to unload his full-auto AK47 in a cinema or at a kindergarten because the voices told him to.
To find out why traffic rules make sense, check out those 'Love Russia driving fail' videos that Youtube is full of.
If you want to know why radio interference rules make sense, try accepting it when your neighbor buys a non-shielded microwave since they don't use wifi in their household and that model microwave was $2 cheaper.

Copyright exists so that if you create something unique you get to benefit off of that for some time. It made sense until Walt Disney et al decided to lobby for extension upon extension.
Patents exist so that if a laboratory with a lot of expensive researchers develop some cancer curing drug that only costs pennies to produce, you get some time to recoup the costs you made developing it and getting it FDA approved etc.

This shit makes sense at a base level. It's when corporate greed comes into play where things go wrong.
If companies are people, let them be civil or accept the consequences (and make sure there are some that hurt where it should).

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@cooper, I agree with you on all those points except maybe the FCC Free speech thing - https://www.google.com/#q=fcc+vs+free+speech

‚Äč

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Federal_Communications_Commission_fines_of_The_Howard_Stern_Show

One of the reasons Howard Stern left terrestrial radio was because of the fines levied against him by the FCC.

The FCC was created, or superseded the FRC, which at the time only covered AM and personal radio users and wasn't a huge market as it is today. With the onset of Fm radio and television, the FCC extended there reach into pretty much all communications, wired and wireless, for modernizing radio and wire telecommunications and monitoring of stations and end users(ie: ham and such radio users), with what they can say, and in today's world, often blurs over into net neutrality waters, but was not designed for censorship on any of these, which makes up a large amount of what they have their hands in here today in the US and North America. The main thing was keeping people from squashing other bands and frequencies so all things played nice together, so that microwave oven, within reason, didn't knock out a nearby government radio antenna or military transmissions. They've taken an over reaching hand into what can be put on the air though, and what we transmit publicly, which sure, context is important, but free speech doesn't exist in the form of communications monitored by the FCC. If they deem it to be derogatory and offensive, with enough complaints, will go after you and fine you if not shut you down, even when within your rights to transmit on a frequency or medium you own or have right to use. We go from making sure devices and radios, communications work with interoperability, to "hey, you can't say that over the air, do not pass go, do not collect $200, but instead, pay us that $200."

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A person without his/her own opinion is a bad person.

A person who forces his/her opinion onto others is a worse person.

A person who won't change his/her opinion when presented with new facts or insights that severely compromise the validity of that own opinion is the worst kind of person.

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A person without his/her own opinion is a bad person.

A person who forces his/her opinion onto others is a worse person.

A person who won't change his/her opinion when presented with new facts or insights that severely compromise the validity of that own opinion is the worst kind of person.

I concur 100%. One of the biggest problems accepting new ideas is to admitted the old idea are wrong. People don't like to be wrong. I'm big on change. So being wrong is something I'd like to be good at.

What to do about this firmware issue? Do we have a point of contact at the FCC we can take this matter up with?

Edited by vailixi
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I concur 100%. One of the biggest problems accepting new ideas is to admitted the old idea are wrong. People don't like to be wrong. I'm big on change. So being wrong is something I'd like to be good at.

What to do about this firmware issue? Do we have a point of contact at the FCC we can take this matter up with?

Comments on the matter closed yesterday. Now it has to be voted on.

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